Cloudera offers limitless possibilities in the era of hybrid cloud

Karim Azar, Regional Vice President, Middle East & Turkey, Cloudera, talks to Channel Post MEA about the unique propositions Cloudera offers to its customers to drive digital transformation seamlessly.

What was Cloudera’s major objective for hosting Evolve Dubai?

We hosted Evolve Dubai on 18th May 2023 to express the idea: ‘data anywhere, innovation everywhere’.

Through the event, we highlighted the power of data analytics and AI, emphasising the importance of leveraging data for innovation and sustainability. During the event, we disclosed the critical findings from our survey across the EMEA region, highlighting the growing need to enhance data capabilities.

At the event, we were able to share the stage with our incredible partners across the banking, aviation, and other industries, who shared their experiences on how they successfully utilised data for their business. With notable panelists, Evolve Dubai provided a platform for networking with data professionals and connecting with business and technology leaders.

The event’s overall objective was to inspire and encourage business leaders by showcasing the power of data and analytics.

With many enterprises in the fray to aid in digital transformation, what unique propositions does Cloudera offer its customers?

Cloudera helps business and public sector organisations do more with their data. Hybrid environments are the new de facto standard, with data sitting across a mosaic of hybrid and multi-cloud environments. Many organisations find it even more difficult to fully extract value from their data assets. We offer them the capability to securely extract value from their data, regardless of where it resides.

What, according to you, is still a major hurdle in the digital transformation journey specific to the Middle East?

Our customer’s data doubles every 12 to 18 months, but a lot of data is never used in decision-making. At the same time, the world is changing faster than ever, as seen during the past pandemic years, with organisations having to react quickly to innovate and differentiate.

Becoming a truly data-driven organisation and leveraging all data takes time and can be challenging, even for the most experienced enterprise IT teams. However, developing this capability as soon as possible is essential in today’s hyper-competitive environment. To become truly data-driven, companies must realise that an ongoing commitment is required.

The biggest problem is mostly not the technology itself but data strategy and organisation. Organisational change is needed in many cases to establish a data-driven culture and a fundamentally new way of working. That’s causing challenges. So it is imperative to adopt a change management system that promotes data-driven decision-making and incentivises employees at all levels to work towards this goal, with evidence of success.

What are the critical data storage and analytics trends in the Middle East?

According to a recent Cloudera study, 71% of organisations within the region have moved their data to the public cloud over the past 12 months. Of those using the public cloud, 87% have a multi-cloud model and work with two or more hyperscalers. In the next 1-3 years, 86% plan to move more data to the cloud. Yet at the same time, 90% plan to repatriate some data back to on-premises environments over the same period. Most find it difficult to extract value from their data across cloud and on-premises environments.

But they need the capability to securely extract value from their data, regardless of where it resides. With the emergence of modern data architectures, organisations can drive more value from their data and optimise their cloud costs simultaneously.

Data is a strategic asset and requires its own Enterprise Data Strategy strategy. Cloud is ultimately a delivery model – a flexible, agile, and scalable one. Without an Enterprise Data Strategy, a cloud strategy alone would hamper managing, accessing, securing, governing, and deriving insight from data. This is precisely what early cloud adopters have experienced: the move to the public cloud created new data and analytics silos that were harder to manage and more costly to operate.

How is AI set to transform data analytics?

Tools such as ChatGPT have raised much awareness and fuelled conversations about AI and its potential business benefits. Large language models are increasing everyone’s access to data, but this raises a lot of data compliance and intellectual property concerns.

For AI to effectively support business-critical decisions, data sets must be complete, accurate, and updated at least on a real-time basis, if not in real-time. But it isn’t just about aggregating data. It also needs to be prepared and analysed, as AI models are only as good as the quality of the data they are learning from.

The problem is enterprise data is often messy, comprising different data types, each needing separate analytics. In addition, the data is stored in other places such as data centres and private clouds, edge locations and various public clouds. Organisations need to have the correct data architecture from the start to truly benefit from AI at scale.

Companies need to organise data to bring it to their advanced language models and help the models interact with company data sets for the proper context. They are based on reliable data – so it comes back with accurate responses rather than ‘hallucinated’ ones.

How can organisations effectively leverage data analytics to make fast and informed decisions?

74% of organisations in the Middle East say siloed data is preventing their organisation from making real-time decisions. The exact number of respondents believe their organisation has lost money as they cannot make decisions quickly because of data siloes.

Companies and public sector organisations need a data platform that operates friction-free on-premise, across public clouds and the edge, so that workloads and data can flow freely without rewriting or refactoring. Services must be portable across different infrastructures without the need for redevelopment. Finally, a platform must handle all data types – structured, semi-structured, and unstructured; real-time, streaming and batch.

While technology solutions may play a vital role, it is also essential to identify that people are equally important in driving data-driven decision-making. Collaboration between business units and IT and a focus on governance and compliance is also necessary to ensure the organisation’s data is used effectively.

What was your key takeaway from Evolve Dubai?

Cloudera Evolve Dubai has been extremely successful, we’ve had nearly 400 attendees, who are all data leaders in the region. Some of our key takeaways based on what we’ve heard from our customers on stage include – A lot of our customers are looking to proceed with a hybrid strategy by moving a lot of their data to the public cloud. At the same time, we are noticing that a lot of our customers who currently use the public cloud are looking to repatriate their data to the on-premises cloud which goes hand-in-hand with the Cloudera Data Strategy that promotes a hybrid data strategy. This is the name of the game.

It’s all about having data anywhere and everywhere, across different clouds and multi-clouds, and seeing tremendous success with our customers.